International News

USA: Industry wide silica clampdown begins

As the US government’s respirable crystalline silica (RCS) standard takes full effect, its safety regulator OSHA has beefed up its National Emphasis Program (NEP) to ensure compliance with the new, more stringent exposure standard. The new standard, originally introduced in general industry, has also now taken full effect in the maritime and construction industries. The 0.05mg/m3 exposure standard is twice as stringent the current UK standard of 0.1mg/m3 and six times more protective for the lung-destroying dust disease silicosis. Silica exposure is also linked to lung cancer and lung, kidney and autoimmune diseases and other chronic health conditions. OSHA’s area offices are now tasked with curating a randomised list of employers for targeted inspections. Before initiating programmed inspections in accordance with the NEP, OSHA says it will offer 90 days of compliance assistance for stakeholders affected by the new measures.
Read more: OSHA news release and National Emphasis Program. Source: Risks 934

Global: Growing hazard posed by illegal pesticide trade

Over the past two decades, the trafficking of highly toxic pesticides has grown into one of the world’s most lucrative and least understood criminal enterprises, a report in the Washington Post has revealed. Adulterated in labs and garages, hustled like narcotics, co-opted by gangs and mafias, counterfeit and contraband pesticides are flooding both developed and developing countries, with environmental and social consequences that are, according to  the UN Environment Program, “far from trivial.”

“It’s very unknown, and it’s very common. This is big,” said Javier Fernández, a senior official with the agrochemical industry lobby group CropLife. He said climate change and increasing demand for food was accelerating the need for pesticides, so the illegal trade is “getting bigger and more violent.” Mikhail Malkov, who studies the problem at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said: “There are plenty of ways where the criminal businesses can make the ‘ideal’ mixture of the illicit pesticides. There are plenty of technologies, starting with sophisticated adulterations and blending, and God knows what they’re putting inside those drums of pesticides.”

Roughly 10 per cent of the agrochemical trade — a quickly growing market valued at US$220 billion — is believed to be illegal, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The estimate has doubled since 2007. Some consider even that a vast underestimate. “More likely [it is] quite a bit higher,” said Leon Van der Wal, FAO’s expert on illegal pesticides. In Europe, he said, it’s 14 per cent, despite what he called “well-established procedures against and intelligence into the modus operandi of illegal traders.” The Washington Post. Source: Risks 934

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